DIMAPUR, Sept 7 The expected quiet Thursday on account of the NESO bandh call was shattered in Dimapur when a fierce gun battle broke out between rival groups NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) and NSCN (K) near Livingstone Higher Secondary School, Thahekhu village, at around 8 am yesterday.
In the heavy gun-battle that lasted for more than an hour, two NSCN (K) members, identified as SS Sergeant Momo Anal, 26, of Toposhin village, Chandel, in Manipur, and SS Sergeant Major Abenthung Kikon alias James, 25, of Mekokla village, sustained injuries in the chest and leg. They have been admitted to Dimapur District Hospital.
In a highly tense event that unfolded, around 20 fully armed cadres of the NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) reportedly surrounded the building of one Major Khetovi of the NSCN (K) where around 17 of its cadres were holed up. Sources said among the cadres in the house were some members who had recently defected from the GPRN/NSCN.
There were also three children and a woman civilian. Miraculously, no harm came upon them during the gun battle.
After fully surrounding the building, the NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) cadres rained a volley of bullets and also lobbed hand grenades into the compound. The NSCN (K) members retaliated from inside. Two vehicles belonging to the NSCN (K) were completely burnt during the incident.
The police later recovered two unexploded grenades which were taken away by the Bomb Squad. Nearby residents said they heard around five hand grenades exploding. Many surrounding buildings were also pierced by bullets. No casualty among civilians was, however, reported.
IRB and police personnel arrived on the scene while the battle was going all out. District administration and civil bodies led by Naga Council also quickly turned up. By that time, irate citizens of the colony, especially womenfolk, had gathered with drums and loud speakers to intervene and chase away the warring cadres.
The cadres of the NSCN (Khole-Kitovi) made their flight towards Signal Angami side after the arrival of the security forces, civil bodies and the public.
Another drama unfolded with the arrival of the Assam Rifles. The AR troops demanded that the NSCN (K) members holed up in the house be handed over to them. In a twist of events, the public, majority of them women, refused to hand over the underground members and rather demanded safe passage for them. The underground members were finally given safe passage and escorted out of the area with their arms and ammunition.
However, a standoff situation ensued again when Assam Rifles troops, numbering around 50, stopped the party escorting the NSCN (K) cadres out near Purana Bazar area and demanded that they be handed over to them. The escorting party was guarded by IRB personnel.
Guns were cocked on the ready and both parties stood their ground creating high tension. The situation was defused only after the arrival of DC Dimapur.